02/22/21: Television Academy reverses course on Emmy sketch and talk categories


Cynopsis Medias First Morning Read


Monday February 22, 2021

Today’s Premieres
AllBlk: “Social Society”
Food Network: “Spring Baking Championship” at 9p
HBO: “Beartown” at 9p
Smithsonian Channel: “Legends of the Pharoahs” at 8p


The Television Academy responded to industry outcry and has decided not to merge the Emmy variety sketch and talk categories. “While the Academy remains concerned about the number of series produced and the relatively small pool of entries in the variety sketch genre, it acknowledges that the differences between variety sketch and talk programs merit separate consideration,” the Academy said. The decision to combine the categories was announced in December.

NBCUniversal is holding a “Health is Universal” summit for the health industry on Thursday, February 25. The virtual event will celebrate the power of storytelling, innovation and human resilience. “Health is now front and center globally for both consumers and marketers,” said Mark Marshall, President of Advertising Sales and Partnerships at NBCUniversal. “This event will bring together the most influential storytellers and marketplace experts to offer a glimpse into the future of the health industry.”

Rep. Devin Nunes’ libel suit against CNN was dismissed by a federal judge. Nunes sued CNN over a November report tied to the first impeachment trial of President Trump. US District Judge Laura Taylor Swain wrote in her opinion that Nunes had failed to demand a retraction from CNN, and failed to plausibly claim the news net had engaged in a conspiracy to defame him.

Watchtime on social video increased 56% among US audiences from February-December 2020, according to the Tubular Winners 2021 report. Audiences went to broadcast media creators for entertainment and news, while digital-first media was a top destination for parents and kids. Among US men aged 45 and over, Fox News had the highest average monthly unique viewers, but for US women 45 and over, the Dodo was the top creator by that metric. Disney and ThSoul Publishing both averaged 644 million unique global viewers per month, tops among all media properties.

Peacock sketch series “The Amber Ruffin Show” will borrow the 1:30a time slot on NBC on Friday, February 26 and March 5, in place of repeats of “A Little Late with Lilly Singh.”

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HBO Max has ordered to series “Subject to Change,”

focused on a desperate college student who signs up for a clinical trial, setting in motion a harrowing adventure. Bad Robot is producing in association with Warner Bros. Television. J.J. Abrams and showrunner Jennifer Yale serve as executive producers, along with Bad Robot’s Ben Stephenson. Said Sarah Aubrey, Head of Original Content, HBO Max, “We cannot wait to bring this complex, eye-opening thriller to HBO Max. It will take viewers on an unexpected ride, showcasing the creative brilliance of J.J., Jennifer and the Bad Robot team.”

Benedict Cumberbatch (“Patrick Melrose”) will star in Anonymous Content’s limited series update of “The 39 Steps.” Cumberbatch will executive produce with Adam Ackland via their SunnyMarch. Writer Mark L. Smith and director Edward Berger will also serve as executive producers alongside Sophie Gardiner for Chapter One Pictures, Cliff Roberts for Syndicate Entertainment and Keith Redmon for Anonymous Content. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 film was the best known adaptation, though there have been four major film versions.

“Shell Beach,” an animated comedy about lifeguards from Fox Entertainment and Bento Box Entertainment, landed a script commitment from Fox. Tyler the Creator, Lionel Boyce and Davon “Jasper” Wilson (“Loiter Squad”) are executive producing.

Casting notes: Kerry Washington and Charlize Theron are onboard Netflix film “The School for Good and Evil,” an adaptation of the fantasy YA novel…Josh Lucas (“Ford v. Ferrari”) will star opposite Rose Rollins in Spectrum Originals drama “Long Slow Exhale.”…Tom Riley (“The Nevers”) landed the lead opposite Kristen Bell in Netflix’s “The Woman in the House.”…Samara Weaving (“Hollywood”) has been cast as Holly Madison in a limited series in the works at Sony Pictures Television based on Madison’s memoir, Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny…Eve (“The Talk”) will star in ABC pilot “Queens,” centered on four women in their 40s who reunite to recapture their ‘90s fame as rappers…Judy Greer (“Kidding”) is replacing Pamela Adlon (“Better Things”) in Showtime anthology series “The First Lady” (wt). Adlon had to bow out due to a scheduling conflict.


“Secrets of Sulphur Springs” drops on Disney+ Friday, February 26. Since its Disney Channel premiere, the time travel series has reached 3.5 million total viewers (P2+), and ranked as the #1 series across all basic cable with Girls 6-11 and is the #1 series on DisneyNOW. Its season finale debuts Friday, March 12, on Disney Channel.

The first two episodes of Apple TV+ series “The Mosquito Coast” start streaming Friday, April 30. The show stars Justin Theroux, nephew of Paul Theroux, who wrote the 1981 novel that inspired the 1986 film and drama series.

Apple TV+ also announced that season two of workplace comedy “Mythic Quest” will premiere Friday, May 7.

Two widowed parents find love, then combine their families in new Critical Content-produced series, “The Blended Bunch,” debuting Tuesday, March 16 at 9p on TLC.


The season eight reunion of “Below Deck” takes place tonight at 9p on “What What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.” Bravo promises surprising accusations and showdowns.

Throughout March, AccuWeather TV Network and accuweather.com are covering Women’s History Month with features showcasing women and their impact on history and the relationship with weather, outdoors and our environment. Segments will be twice a day, Monday-Friday at 7:40a and 6:40p. Stories will cover the Pack Horse Library, women librarians who traveled by horseback to deliver books during the Great Depression; an all-female fire crew who combat wildfires; and a Clara Barton/Red Cross profile.

“South Park” has another COVID-19 themed special, set to simulcast on Comedy Central and MTV2 on Wednesday, March 10. In “South ParkQ: The Vaccination Special,” a militant group will try to stop the boys from getting their teacher vaccinated.

Nick Jonas will make his debut as host of NBC’s SNL on Saturday, February 27, and also serve as musical guest, a spot he’s held twice before. The show comes ahead of the March 1 season premiere of NBC’s “The Voice,” where Jonas is a coach.

Kevin Bacon, Sterling K. Brown, Michael Douglas, Kyra Sedgwick, Susan Kelechi Watson, and Catherine Zeta-Jones have been added to the roster of presenters at this year’s 78th Annual Gold Globe Awards, airing Sunday, February 28 at 8p on NBC.

In more Globes news, Feeding America will be a philanthropic partner of the show. The official champagne of the Globes, Moet & Chandon, will support Feeding America with their “Toast for a Cause” initiative.

Robert Irwin, son of the late Steve Irwin and Bindi Irwin’s younger brother, is starring in an upcoming episode of animated kids’ series “Bluey,” airing Friday, February 26 on Disney Channel.

Canela.TV is taking a spin with Lexus to host a Latinos in Hollywood Movie Nights. Films featuring top Latino names in Hollywood will air Fridays, through March 15.


Amid complaints from viewers who see too many of the same ads on CTV, Vizio Ads has introduced a product that limits the number of times a viewer sees the same ad when an advertiser buys commercial inventory through the Vizio maker’s platform. “With this new frequency control offering, brands can use deterministic information to control linear and CTV advertising experiences at the device level,” said Travis Hockersmith, VP, Platform Business at Vizio. “This solves a major problem marketers face when diversifying and managing their reach to TV audiences. Most importantly it will make a much better experience for viewers at home.” Universal Frequency Control comes after Vizio brought its Inscapte data business further in-house.


Sky renewed comedy/drama “I Hate Suzie” for a second season. The show follows a famous woman working to rebuild her life after a phone hack revealed graphic pictures of her extra-marital affair.

iZen has announced its latest scripted project for the global market, optioning City of Marvels (La Ciudad de los Prodigios), and is now in development on a six-part series based on Eduardo Mendoza’s Spanish historical novel.

Watch the Sports Media Award Winners Named Live
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Univision music show “Premio Lo Nuestro” was first among broadcast networks on Thursday among A18-49, with an 0.8 rating, and 2.53 million viewers.

For the week of February 8, the Discovery portfolio had 66 telecasts (41 different programs) across five different networks (TLC, Discovery, HGTV, Food Network and ID) each averaging at least 1 million total viewers. The portfolio was led by TLC’s “90 Day Fiancé” and “Sister Wives” (2.9 million and 2.1 million total viewers, Sunday night’s #1 & #3 cable programs, respectively); Discovery’s “Gold Rush” and “Gold Rush: White Water” (2.8 million and 2.1 million, Friday night’s top 2 non-news cable programs, respectively); HGTV’s “Home Town” (2.4 million, Sunday night’s #2 cable program, behind only sister net TLC’s “90 Day Fiancé”); and Food Network’s “Kids Baking Championship” (1.7million).

Broadcast Nielsen Ratings for Thursday, February 18
Show, P2+ millions, (A18-49)
ABC: “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune” 5.85 (0.*), “The Chase” 4.15 (0.6), “The Hustler” 2.58 (0.4)
CBS: “Young Sheldon” 7.48 (0.8), “B Positive” 5.04 (0.6), “Mom” 5.24 (0.6), “The Unicorn” 3.73 (0.4), “Clarice” 4.01 (0.4)
CW: “Walker 1.67 (0.2), “Legacies” 0.53 (0.01)
FOX: “Hell’s Kitchen” 2.82 (0.7), “Call Me Kat” 2.16 (0.5), “Last Man Standing” 2.29 (0.4)
NBC: “Mr. Mayor” 2.64 (0.5), “Young Rock” 1.80 (0.3), Law & Order: SVU” 3.99 (0.7), “Dateline” 3.20 (0.5)
Source: Nielsen live + same day time period averages


Yusuf Chuku has joined NBCUniversal in the newly created role of Executive Vice President, Client Strategy & Insights. Chuki was previously Global Chief Strategy Officer at VMLY&R. Additionally, Jenny Burke and Tom Stevens have each been promoted to Executive Vice President. Burke is taking on an expanded role as EVP, Advertising Strategy, while Stevens is stepping into the new role of EVP, Advertising and Partnerships.

MarcBuhaj has been appointed VP, Unscripted Series and Specials, Disney Branded Television. He was most recently SVP, Programming Manager and GM, Disney XD.

NIssa Diederich has been promoted from EVP Production for Touchstone Television to EVP, Production, 20th Television. She takes over the responsibilities of Jim Sharp, who will stay until the end of the year to assist with the transition.

This Day in History
1630 – Native Americans introduced pilgrims to popcorn.

Answer to Our Last Trivia Question
What was the first Norman Lear show to air on ABC? “Hot l Baltimore” (1975). Kudos to: Aaron Pacquette-ScreeneEngine/ASI/Fort Worth, TX, Kevin Moran-Blarney Productions/Pasadena, CA, Dan Whitford-WTTW/Chicago, Paul Blutter-Walk and Talk Production Rentals/Burbank, RichardQuan-Heat/San Francisco, John Kukla-KDFW/Dallas, Peter Butchen-NFL Media/NYC, Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton, FL, Lorrie Shilling/El Segundo, CA, Greg West-WATC/Atlanta, Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA

Today’s Trivia Question
What was the first TV channel to transmit via satellite? (Email trivia@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone. Unofficial rules: a limit of four answers per time zone.)

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NBC: “Ellen’s Game of Games,” “Ellen’s Game of Games,” “The Wall”
PBS: “Antiques Roadshow,” “Antiques Roadshow,” “Independent Lens”
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Univision: “Vencer el Desamor,” “Imperio de Mentiras,” “Dulce Ambicion”



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